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Ballet Talk for Dancers



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I would love to improve my knowledge of terminology and vocabulary but find books alone don't seem to do the trick. I need to visualize the steps and positions in space. Is there an interactive somewhere that I can use to better familiarize myself with the names and the visuals?

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ABT has an online ballet dictionary you can search for that shows pictures and short videos for steps. The images are kind of small, but it helps to get a visual of what the step is supposed to look like.

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Youtube is the best. You can look up tutorials and ask questions.

I have two books, the one by Darcey Bussell and The Ballet Companion. I agree, they are good for body positions, but not as good for actual steps. Sometimes ill look up terms in youtube if I don't fully understand the moves.

After someone looks up a few ballet terms, more and more vids will be suggested by Youtube.

A few Youtube channels I like


Claudia Dean Coaching

Salty Sugar Plum

Holistic Ballet

Royal Opera House, as mentioned before me

Align Ballet

Ballerinas by Night


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I found there are a lot of differences between the videos on youtube. As a beginner is hard to tell whether the execution of the shown step is accurate or not.

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  • 3 months later...

Do most schools stay strict to their method (Vaganova, RAD, Cecchetti, Bournonville) or do they mix and match? And if they do mix and match, what is the reasoning?

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None of the studios I've attended declare a specific technique/method and all had more of an American potpourri of terminology, aesthetics, etc. from various influences. I do occasionally take class at a studio affiliated with one of the major US ballet companies and I know that their teachers have a specific syllabus for the children/pre-pros and a certain aesthetic that they are expected to teach, but I don't think it's tied to any specific school of thought, but relates more to what the versatility demanded in the professional realm.

I know there are a few RAD studios in our area, but I don't have any experience with them to be able to speak to how they approach

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this might be getting away from topic but I actually think this is sort of an issue in the way we train ballet dancers in the US - some schools mix techniques and what happens is, the student does one thing to please teacher A and another to please teacher B .... the danger in this is that their technique may never be as solid as it should be..... and I mean real technique not things that are stylized,  that fine, I'm talking about specific technique.... just a thought 

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In that open American way, they mix and match quiet loosely and easily. It can be a little confusing from teacher to teacher if you aren't used to it. If a student is going to a conservatory or academy with very strict syllabus or style, you won't find a lot of mixing. RAD students will always have the same "posé" and coupe (which I still actually don't know what a posé is to this day), and Vaganova students will continue to always have three arm positions not including "preparation". I seriously remember the first time I went to an open American class, and the teacher said, "Raise your arms to 5th..." and I thought, "What the heck? There's no 5th position of the arm." Luckily, I just followed suit and realized that 5th for others = 3rd for us. 

So yes, what is considered right is very rich and varied in the world of ballet! 

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2 hours ago, LaFilleSylphide said:

which I still actually don't know what a posé is to this day

As far as I understand it, it's a step from one foot to another - generally onto a straight leg in demi-pointe/pointe - eg what we call  posé turns in the UK - which I think are technically piqué tours or piqué pirouettes en dedans 


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You go Redbookish! :) My understanding is though, it does not always have to be onto a straight leg or demi-pointe/pointe.  In RAD you can have variations of posé onto the whole foot, even on fondus sometimes in preparation for another steps like posé assemble soutenu or posé coupe (galop).  The RAD dictionary translates it as "a placed step" if that helps.

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That was the idea had I gathered. I grew up at a Cecchettininfluenced school. Currently attending a Vaganova influences school. But neither have been strict in following exactly. I had friends growing up who transferred from an RAD school with exams and all and I’m sure they had a stricter terminology and technique focus. Reading this board has been enlightening to see the influences and variations over time, geography, and schools of thought. 

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Also - I love being able to read he teachers forum (and I apologize if I have jumped in to a conversation where forgetting which forum I was viewing and not having permissions). 

Reading the discussions of teachers clarifying how to teach and demonstrate has helped me appreciate and develop in ballet. 

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